Staff photo by Dean H. Borgwardt
CAMP Verde Middle School Principal Mike Taylor has tendered his resignation to the school board and will leave the district after the summer school session. He and his family will reside in Yuma for personal reasons.
Taylor has been with the school for two years and is torn between his fondness of the community and the school district and family obligations in Yuma.
Not only is Camp Verde schools losing an educator, but Taylor's wife, Rebecca was also principal at Chester Newton Charter & Montessori School in Camp Verde and has left for Yuma.
"My wife and I really love this area and want to live here, and I wanted my son to continue going to school here," Taylor said. "But right now it's not possible."
Taylor had suffered a loss in his family, and matters dictate he and his family live closer to them.
He said he will work through the summer session and then he will join his family in Yuma after July 29.
Taylor came to Camp Verde from San Diego, where he was an assistant principal at a middle school.
The 25-year veteran educator said he is examining prospects in Yuma, but will not accept any position there until the school board accepts his resignation.
"My contract was for two years," he said. "The school board is very understanding of my situation."
Camp Verde Superintendent Ron Maughan said Taylor had expressed a need to move closer to his family in Yuma, so his resignation was not a surprise, but "we are disappointed to see Mr. Taylor leave," Maughan said. "He and his family has been a great addition to our school and our community."
Maughan added that the two years Taylor has been with the middle school he has worked diligently to improve student achievement among all of the students in his school.
"We wish him well in his new assignment," he added. "We sure to hate to see him go."
Maughan said that school administrators are working on finding a replacement for Taylor and hope to make a recommendation soon.
"We will have a principal when school opens," he said.
The principal's office was beset with moving boxes and piles of papers covered his desk as a cleaning crew dusted the lighting in the next room.
Taylor said he may accept a position at a middle school where he first taught in 1977 -- the same middle school he attended as a student.
"Our students and staff have been wonderful and I will miss working with them," he said quietly.
A recent feather in Taylor's cap was bringing the school from under performing to a performing label in 2003.
After the middle school was designated an under performing school by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) in October 2003, educators at the school devised strategies to address the deficient areas. Out of the three major categories of state evaluation; academic achievement, the number of students tested and attendance, the middle school was deficient in academic achievement.
But the school's educators disagreed, then examined the situation and collected data from previous exams. The data was submitted as evidence to the state to substantiate the school's progress. Taylor submitted a letter to the ADE requesting a label correctly identifying the middle school as performing, bolstered by data illustrating the school's academic achievement.
ADE reviewed the schools data and agreed that Camp Verde Middle School should be assigned a performing school label.
Taylor said 88 schools statewide had appealed the most recent rating results and only 11 percent were accepted to change their performance labeling status. The correct labeling of the middle school as performing reflects the hard work demonstrated by students, parents and staff.
The fruit of their labors is that the school met and exceeded these goals by at least 5 percent of the state's standard level.
Still, the attendance issue is plaguing the schools and remains a challenge to administrators.
Despite his leaving and personal issues, Taylor is still an educator and expressed concern for his student body.
"Our main concern is attendance," he said. "The issue of parents assisting their kids to succeed is promoting attendance."
Taylor added that he has reservations about leaving the Verde Valley, but "circumstances dictate otherwise," he said.
He said that he was appreciative of the opportunity to serve the community and work with the school staff.
"This has been a wonderful place, and I thank the school board and all the staff for their support," he said. "We want to stay, but now is not the time."